Mikel Arteta says he’s sure Nicolas Pepe has the potential to be a ‘top player’, but insists the record signing needs to convince him he’s got what it takes to start with his work on the training ground.
The Ivorian international has had some fantastic moments this season, but defensive lapses and adaptation to a new league have made it a more difficult start to his Arsenal career than we had hoped.
However, the new manager says he’s here to help the 24 year old, who should take heart from the work he did at Man City with Raheem Sterling and Leeroy Sane.
Asked about why he’s struggled since his £72m arrival from Lille, Arteta said, “I think it is a mixture of things.
“It was obviously a big change from France to come here. As well he found a team that at that moment probably wasn’t performing at its best.
“The environment wasn’t the best for him to settle. It is not only about him we are here to help him.
“If he is willing to learn and willing to work hard I assure he has potential to be top absolutely top.
“Today [against Bournemouth] in two or three actions he has shown how good he can be, but he has to be consistent.
“The problem is confidence will only come when he plays, but he has to train well enough to convince the manager I am confident enough to play him.”
He hasn’t been helped by injuries either, but it does sound as if Arteta is demanding more from him to help him realise that potential. Let’s hope he can respond to that, perhaps starting with Chelsea tomorrow.